IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this paper

Improving Understanding of the Social Security OASDI Trust Fund

Listed author(s):
  • Schmult, Brian

This paper argues that the Social Security OASDI Trust Fund is widely misunderstood by the public, thereby corrupting the debate on how to handle future scheduled benefits, and increasing the risk of program changes that would not be accepted if people understood how the program functions. The Trust Fund is a fiscal nullity but appears to be regarded by many as essential, hence the public debate is about how to ``fix'' it, rather than about the moral question of {\it whether} to fund scheduled benefits, which are clearly affordable. This misunderstanding indicates the need for a shift in emphasis in public descriptions of the program. For this, this paper lays out a set of data, arguments and analogies that are asserted to be accurate representations of the OASDI program and Trust Fund operation, and which are proposed as tools for public education. Finally, this paper argues that an important step in shifting public debate is to re-institute full recourse to Treasury funding for any payroll tax shortfall, which will force the public debate back to benefit levels and revenue sources.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
File Function: original version
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 44227.

in new window

Date of creation: 24 Dec 2012
Date of revision: 05 Feb 2013
Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:44227
Contact details of provider: Postal:
Ludwigstra├če 33, D-80539 Munich, Germany

Phone: +49-(0)89-2180-2459
Fax: +49-(0)89-2180-992459
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

in new window

  1. Martin Neil Baily & Jacob Funk Kirkegaard, 2009. "US Pension Reform: Lessons from Other Countries," Peterson Institute Press: All Books, Peterson Institute for International Economics, number 4259.
  2. Kent Smetters, 2004. "Is the Social Security Trust Fund a Store of Value?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(2), pages 176-181, May.
  3. Lafrance, Amelie & Larochelle-Cote, Sebastien, 2011. "Consumption Patterns Among Aging Canadians: A Synthetic Cohort Approach," Economic Analysis (EA) Research Paper Series 2011067e, Statistics Canada, Analytical Studies Branch.
  4. Barbara A. Butrica & Richard W. Johnson & Joshua H. Goldwyn, 2005. "Understanding Expenditure Patterns in Retirement," Working Papers, Center for Retirement Research at Boston College wp2005-3, Center for Retirement Research, revised Jan 2005.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:44227. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Joachim Winter)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.